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Opinion

For more opinion, see the StratVantage News Summary and The TrendSpot. Also, check out our Prediction Tracker, which tracks the predictions I've made in the past. In addition, you can see some of the stuff I said back in the early days of the Internet.

Here's an oldie but a goodie from 2000.

Faster, Better, Cheaper Bandwidth . . .

. . . is just around the corner. According to Upside, "By the end of [2000], Nortel Networks Corp. (NT) plans to begin selling a system that will send a staggering 1.6 trillion bits per second through a single fiber. That's equivalent to more than 20 million simultaneous phone calls." What will the world look like when bandwidth cost approaches zero? We may find out a good deal sooner than we thought.

At the Delphi Corporate Portals conference in 2000, Wired editor Kevin Kelly related a story of an early 20th century Sears product: the home motor. This portable but expensive device could power all manner of labor saving devices. Kelly asserted that people of that time couldn't imagine what was to come: motors disappeared into the fabric of the home support systems. It's certainly true. Rather than a single, expensive, valuable resource that needs to be conserved and maximized, domestic motors today are in everything and we never think about them. Try taking an inventory of all the motors in your house. Did you remember to count any mechanical clocks?

Kelly's point is that computing will disappear into the background just as so many other technologies have. I believe communications bandwidth will go the same way. Remember when you hesitated to make a long distance call because it was so expensive? (If you don't, you were probably born later than the 70s.) Now you can call for free on your wireless phone. Kelly described the cost curve that modern technology has created: one that approaches zero. A correlary to his thinking is my assertion that, "On the Internet, everything devolves to free." (See my presentation from the conference for more on that subject, here. Email me if you want the PowerPoint file.

So, what will you do with unlimited bandwidth?

 



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